I spent most of finals week binge watching The Great British Bake Off (I think this was a much more productive procrastination activity than last year's, which involved watching Hugh Grant rom coms and reading The Hunger Games trilogy). The show is so British, with Union Jack bunting and judges sitting around with tea cups and people talking about Spotted Dick with completely straight faces. In true British fashion, a recurring bake is the pasty, a small savory pie ranging from Cornish Pasties to pork pies.
So I had been itching to make some little meat pies of my own when I seredipitously had the chance a couple of weeks ago to receive a copy of Ken Haedrich's new cookbook, Dinner Pies. While American pie is usually sweet, Haedrich's book shares savory pie recipes from around the world, from quiche and samosas to pasties from Cornwall and (my mother's favorite) Wellington.
I love the concept of dinner pies, of warm, savory pies that are the perfect comfort food and meal on the go. And because I've been watching way too much Bake Off, they evoke a Dickens-era working class dinner, hearty and fragrant and filling, tucked into a miner's shirtfront or tempting a ragged street urchin.
Aside from the many flavor combinations and enough quiche ideas to last me a few years, Dinner Pies helpfully walks you through several versatile pie dough recipes such as a dough for deep-fried pies and a sturdier dough for hand pies.
The recipe that immediately caught my eye was Haedrich's Kale and Chorizo Hand Pies, though it unfortunately didn't have a photo. That would be my one complaint with this book: most recipes don't have an accompany picture, which I think are so important for convincing us to try out a new recipe.
However, I can't ever turn down the sausage and kale combination, and these little pies turned out deliciously. While kale is certainly quite trendy for its supposed health benefits, it actually is a wonderful vegetable to work with for its own merit. It has a great flavor and is much less watery than most leafy greens, which makes it perfect for pie. I was initially very dubious with recipe for hand pie dough, since it had much less fat than I'm used to putting into my pies, but it actually turned out beautifully flaky.
Dinner Pies is an interesting creative work, transforming the pastry dough we usually associate with dessert into savory snacks and meals. The wonderful people at Harvard Common Press are allowing me to share with you the recipe for kale and chorizo hand pies. Do give these a try; after all, kale practically makes these health food, right?
Happy New Year!
Caroline's notes for the recipe:
- I did not end up using all the broth the recipe called for, and only added about 1/2 cup. The liquid helps cook down the kale, which can be fairly tough, but I like my kale with a little bit of body, so I didn't leave it to simmer for very long. However much broth you add, you want the finished filling to be fairly dry, or else your pie will become soggy.
- You could use ground chorizo, or chorizo links. I used ground, which saves you the trouble of pre-cooking the sausages and chopping them up.
Kale and Smoked Chorizo Hand Pies
Recipe © 2016 by Ken Haedrich and Used by Permission of The Harvard Common Press
Yields: 4 servings
Click here for the printer-friendly recipe.
1 recipe Flaky and Sturdy Hand Pie Pastry (recipe follows), refrigerated
For the Filling
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 to 1 cup beef broth
2 pounds kale, stemmed and chopped 8 ounces fully cooked smoked chorizo sausage, cut in bite-size pieces
1 plum tomato, halved, seeded, and diced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese or 1 cup diced provolone or mozzarella cheese
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
If you haven’t already, prepare and refrigerate the pastry for at least 1 hour.
About 45 minutes before you want to assemble these hand pies, heat the olive oil in a very large skillet or stovetop casserole over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute; salt and pepper the vegetables lightly. Add 3/4 cup beef broth and bring to a simmer.
Add the kale, cover the skillet, and gently braise the kale for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. (If there’s too little liquid in the pan, add the remaining 1/4 cup broth, or even more if needed, and finish cooking.)
When the liquid has mostly evaporated, stir in the sausage and tomato. Heat for 2 minutes, stirring often, then remove from the heat. Transfer the mixture to a plate and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and get out a large baking sheet. Line it with parchment if you have some.
Working with one piece of dough at a time (and leaving the others in the refrigerator), roll it on a lightly floured surface into a round- cornered rectangle about 10 inches long and 8 inches wide. Draw an imaginary line across the center (crosswise) and put one-quarter of the kale and sausage mixture to one side of that line, leaving a border of 3/4 to 1 inch uncovered. Cover with 1/4 cup of the cheese. Press the filling down gently to compact it.
Using a wet fingertip or damp pastry brush, moisten the entire perimeter of the dough, then fold the uncovered half of the dough over the filling, lining up the edges. Press gently to seal, then roll up the border to form a sort of rope edge. Poke the top once or twice with a paring knife to let steam escape. Transfer the hand pie to the baking sheet, then make the remaining pies. Brush all four pies lightly with the egg wash.
Bake on the center oven rack until the pastry is a rich golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the hand pies to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
Flaky & Sturdy Hand Pie Pastry
Makes enough for 4 medium-size hand pies or more smaller ones
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Put the butter and shortening cubes in a single layer on a flour- dusted plate, with the shortening off to one side of the plate by itself. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and refrigerate that as well. Gently whisk the egg, water, and vinegar in a 1-cup glass measure until combined and refrigerate that also.
When you’re ready to mix the pastry, transfer the flour mixture to a food processor. Pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and add the fat all at once, dropping it here and there over the flour. Give the machine six to eight 1-second pulses, cutting the fat into small pieces (baby pea–size and smaller).
Remove the lid and pour about half of the liquid over the dry ingredients, but not all in one place. Give the machine two or three half- second pulses. Remove the lid, add the rest of the liquid, and pulse the machine again until the dough just barely starts to form coarse crumbs that hold together when you press them between your fingertips. Dump the mixture into a large mixing bowl and gather it together, kneading it gently several times.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into four equal pieces. Knead each one a couple more times, then shape into balls. Put the balls on separate sheets of plastic wrap and flatten them into disks about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap individually in the plastic and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before rolling, or longer if desired. (You can also slip the wrapped dough into a gallon-size plastic freezer bag and freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.)
Note: To make the dough by hand, measure and refrigerate all of the ingredients as specified in step 1. When you’re ready to mix the dough, transfer the dry mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the fat; toss by hand to coat with the flour. Using a pastry blender, cut in the fat until it is broken into small pieces (baby pea–size and smaller). Push the mixture toward the center of the bowl. Add about half of the liquid, pouring it all around the sides of the bowl rather than in any one spot. Stir briskly with a fork to dampen everything. Add the remaining liquid and mix again until the dough pulls together. Knead, divide, and shape as specified in step 4.